Yesterday I responded to an editorial in NJ Spotlight by high school teacher Walter Bowne. Mr. Bowne argued that the students in his A.P. English and literature classes shouldn’t have to take PARCC assessments because they’re all on their way to colleges that are “the best in the land” and far more engaged in deconstructing Aristotle, Churchill, and Swift. State standardized testing is insulting the intelligence of these elite scholars, who merely “chuckle at their PARCC ‘F’.”
Wow. I’m intimidated. So I checked out Asbury Park Press’s “data universe,” which compiles all manner of public government and school data, including every teacher’s name, salary, classes taught, years experience, and district.
So, Mr. Bowne teaches at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees (Camden County), where, according to the School Performance Report, 10.6% of the student body is economically-disadvantaged and 15% of the students are black or Hispanic. Not a poor district by any stretch, but not Short Hills either. Not really diverse, but not completely segregated. Maybe this school really offers elevated academic rigor to a wide range of students.
Buzz. Wrong answer. According to the data, a mere 20.7% of students at Eastern Regional take A.P. courses in math, English, social studies, or science. In other words, Bowne argues in his editorial that state policy on standardized testing should ignore 79.3% of his school’s own students.
Hmmm. Maybe he really was writing a satire.